Erin Currier

Joan Didion (After Pompeii's Sappho)

Acrylic & mixed media on panel, 24"h x 18"w, Item No. 15938,

Erin Currier explains:

Like Sappho, born some 2,564 years before her, Joan Didion is a prolific writer, one who has garnered respect and admiration throughout her life. She is a journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and author of numerous autobiographical works. Her coverage of American counterculture was widely recognized as being groundbreaking and significant, as were her later writings on grief.  Didion responded to the crushing losses of her only adopted daughter, Quintana, and her beloved husband of 39 years, writer John Gregory Dunne, with several bravely sublime works, including Blue Nights and The Year of Magical Thinking. She is the recipient of numerous degrees and awards, including honorary doctorates from Harvard and Yale, the National Book Award, and the National Medal of Arts.

On a personal level, I had long been somewhat familiar with Didion. However, it was only after watching the deeply moving documentary about her life and work, The Center Will Not Hold,  while at a friend’s house in Rome that I was compelled to create a portrait of her, as well as to read more of her works. I had just visited Pompeii for the first time, where I saw the iconic fresco of Sappho. Didion somehow seemed the embodiment of the feisty, nonconformist, and utterly original poetess Sappho.  I replaced the pen in Sappho’s hand with Didion’s signature cigarette and, through the use of layered ephemera, attempted to recreate the ancient, weathered walls of Pompeii.